Hydroxy fatty acids in remote marine aerosols as microbial tracers: Long term study on β-hydroxy fatty acids from the remote marine Island, Chichi-Jima

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Poonam Tyagi, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
To better understand the long-range atmospheric transport of microbial aerosols from Southeast Asia to the western North Pacific, marine aerosols were collected at a remote Island, Chichi-Jima on a biweekly basis during 1990-1993. These samples were investigated for the atmospheric abundances of hydroxy fatty acids (OH FAs). β-OH FAs are the major structural components of endotoxins in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) whereas w-OH FAs are present in cell walls of higher plants. Thus, we tested the applicability of the β-OH FAs (C10-C18) and ω-OH FAs (C16-C26) to assess the Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) and contribution of terrestrial higher plants, respectively. The average concentrations of β- and ω-OH FAs show pronounced seasonal variability with spring maximum (~301 ng/m-3 and ~ 272 ng/m-3, respectively). The concentrations of total OH FAs increased in winter/spring and decreased in summer/autumn, except for 1992-93. This seasonal trend can be interpreted by the atmospheric transport of microbial soil dust and higher plant metabolites from the Asian continent during winter/spring, when westerly winds dominate over the western North Pacific. The even carbon predominance of β- and ω-OH FAs (80 and 74 % of total) in marine aerosols could be explained by their significant contribution from GNB and terrestrial higher plants. These results have implications towards assessing the bacterial transport in the continental outflows. This study also confirms that β-OH FAs can be used as bacterial tracers in ambient aerosol samples.

Keywords: β- and ω-hydroxy fatty acids, terrestrial biomarkers, marine aerosols, GC-MS